After a bleak half-decade of declines in hiring, Washington-area law offices see sunlight — a sliver, but enough to warrant guarded optimism.

Our annual Legal Times 150 survey shows that while overall headcounts held steady, more D.C.-area firms grew their ranks of full-time lawyers than in the previous year. Hogan Lovells retained the top spot on the list for the second consecutive year.

For our Legal Times 150, we ask law firms to report their data on headcounts and revenue for each office in the Washington metropolitan area, including the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; and, in Virginia, Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church.

The headcount numbers provide a snapshot in time. Firms were asked to report full-time equivalent positions as of December 31, 2012; numbers don’t include contract or staff attorneys or summer associates.

The D.C. 25, a survey of the highest-grossing law offices, revealed that revenue increased 3 percent despite flat hiring. At $219 million in revenues, Kirkland & Ellis posted the top percentage jump — nearly 10 percent — from the previous year’s survey. Patton Boggs experienced the sharpest decline, 7 percent, with revenues of $207 million.

Washington-area lobbying shops did better overall. In this year’s Influence 50, The National Law Journal‘s annual survey of the lobbying industry, Patton Boggs surpassed Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as the revenue leader with $106.3 million in government-affairs income in 2012. Akin, which pulled in $100.1 million last year, had held the top spot since 2007.

Finally, this year marks the second time The National Law Journal is featuring the Hill Hot List. We asked advocacy groups, lawyers and lobbyists to recommend Capitol Hill attorneys who perform critical work on key issues facing Congress. These congressional lawyers guide legislation, shape oversight investigations and budget battles, and have the ear of lawmakers on a range of issues — from privacy and national security to finance and immigration.

We hope you’ll take time to discover who’s up and who’s down among the law firms, lobby shops and Hill lawyers.

— Beth Frerking, editor in chief, The National Law Journal and Legal Times

D.C. Law Firms Are Learning to Love Austerity
Even those that are growing are streamlining
operations to please recession-wary clients.

The LT 150: The D.C. Metro Area’s Largest Law Offices
Ranked by headcount, the 150 biggest players in the Washington legal market.
Largest Branch Offices
The 25 biggest offices of firms based outside the Washington metro area.
Largest Home-Grown Firms
The top 25 firms that got their start in Washington.
Top Gains, Steepest Declines
The offices with the largest percentage of gains and losses in headcount.

Edging Akin Gump, Patton Boggs Claims Top Slot
Influence 50 members registered a slight increase
in government-affairs lobbying revenue in 2012.

Chart: The Influence 50
Lobby shops and law firms with the highest revenues
from lobbying work in 2012.

Revenues Up at Washington’s Top Firms
The 25 highest-grossing law offices collectively
pulled in $6.3 billion last year.
Chart: The D.C. 25
The top 25 Washington law offices, by revenue.

From budget battles and antitrust to privacy and immigration,
lawyers on Capitol Hill play critical roles in research, oversight
and shaping legislation. Meet a dozen congressional legal stars.